On 9 A.M. on Easter Sunday morning, members of Cumann Na Saoirse Náisíunta (CnSN) gathered at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx at the graveside of Joe Stynes, a lifelong Republican and Tan War veteran. From his immigration to America in 1927 to his death in the year 1991, he remained committed to the All-Ireland Republic proclaimed during Easter Week, 1916. Joe was active in Clan Na Gael and later in Irish Northern Aid. Remaining true to Republican principles, he helped found CnSN, which he remained a trustee of until his death.
The Easter ceremony began with a short introduction by commemoration chairperson Brian Mór Ó Baoighill, who spoke of the memories of his tutelage of the Fenian faith under Joe. He stated that Joe was amongst the most dedicated Republicans he had ever had the pleasure of knowing, making note of mentioning how Joe would have been revolted by the latest declarations of Brit minister McGuinness.
Brian then introduced Séamus Ó Dubhda, Republican activist and county Kerry Gaelgeoir. By Brian’s request, Seamus gave a reading of Forógra Na Cáisce, the Easter Proclamation, which he completed as Gaelge.
Brian Mór then asked Pat Williams to read the Easter Statement from the Leadership of the Republican Movement in Ireland. The reading of these statements has been a long held tradition amongst the Irish Diaspora for decades.
Josh Jacobs was then called upon to read the Easter Proclamation, as Béarla. This document has always been viewed by CnSN to be a cornerstone of their organization. Cathal Mac Uibhir followed by reading CnSN’s Easter Message, which extended well wishes to Republicans worldwide. The Message contrasted the differences between the Provisionals and those who stand by the All-Ireland Republic of 1916 and also expressed solidarity with Republican prisoners. The Message concluded on a motivational note, stating that “We collectively must and will continue to educate and advocate for the implementation of the Eire Nua program to end hundreds of years of occupation, discrimination, and suffering on the part of the Irish People.”
The ceremony continued with a recitation of Pearse’s Oration at the Grave of O’Donovan Rossa, done by Maighréad Dorry (Ni Dhubhda). Two younger members of the Ó Dubhda family gave their assistance.
Brian then called upon Maighréad Ni Thréinfhir to deliver the famous poem Easter, 1916, composed by WB Yeats. This poem, whose recital is now a common Easter tradition amongst the Irish, has always held a special place amongst all Irish people.
Jane Enright followed by reading an article written by CnSN member Darryl Levy titled “The Wearing of the Easter Lily”. The article explained the origin and importance of the Easter lily, making mention of the fact that Republican political prisoners are punished for wearing it.
Well-known Fenian Liam Ó Murchú then gave a history on the formation of Na Fianna Éireann, the Republican Youth Movement in Ireland. Liam devoted special attention to the signifigant role that former members of Na Fianna played at various stages in the Republican Movement and the Irish struggle for freedom. Liam then invited the piper, Patrick Murphy, to lead those assembled a short distance to the grave of Tomas Kelly, a Mount Bellow native and American Civil War veteran who achieved a distinguished rank as member of the Fenian Brotherhood.
The 2009 Easter Commemoration concluded with a distribution of copies of an official Letter of Marque hand written by Thomas Kelly during March 1867. This letter, written on behalf of the ‘Central Executive of the Irish Republic’, was recently unearthed and will soon be added the Fenian Graves section of www.irishfreedom.net. In closing, Liam thanked all who braved the bitter cold morning to attend.
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We would like to send greetings of well wishes and solidarity to all Republicans in Ireland, Australia, the United States and elsewhere around the world on this; the 93rd anniversary of the Easter Rising. We stand, shoulder to shoulder with those who reject any agreement that usurps the Republic that was declared on the steps of the GPO on that Easter Monday. Cumann Na Saoirse Náısıúnta would also like to extend greetings to those Republicans being held in prison. Imprisoned for nothing more then being patriotic and following the example of Easter 1916. They also continue to battle for the reintroduction of political status fought for and achieved in 1981 by the blanketmen and particularly Bobby Sands in unison with the other hunger strikers. Unfortunately, the efforts of those brave men and what they accomplished in the face of some of the worst brutality the world has ever seen, was signed away by the Provisionals with the Good Friday Agreement; an agreement to capitulate to English rule.
As we gather here today to remember Joseph Stynes, the lifelong republican, recent events in Ireland, highlight the length that those forces opposed to the Republican ideal are willing to go to extinguish the flame of Irish freedom. An interesting dichotomy arises when we take a brief look at what is unfolding at this very minute in Ireland. In various locations throughout the island, politicians are gathering to allegedly commemorate Irish freedom fighters from years past. However, British minister Mr. McGuinness offered comments regarding the death of two British army personnel and the death of an RUC/PSNI officer by forces opposed to British occupation. Mr. McGuinness labeled the groups responsible for those actions as, “traitors”. At the time of the Easter Rising, those responsible, Pearse, Connolly, Clarke, and others were labeled traitors as well. Britain was engaged in a war against the Central Powers and any act of rising against their rule, was considered treasonous. So this Easter, Mr. McGuinness and other members of his colonial party will attend Easter commemorations through out Ireland.
To stand at a grave in the Garden of Remembrance or in Milltown, or at any number of sites and declare that the actions of brave volunteers 25 or 35 or 90 years ago is somehow distinctly different from fighting the oppression today that still exists, is simply a lie. Ruaırí Ó Brádaıgh and others warned us all, that this would be the logical progression of events when the leadership of the Provisionals turned their back on Republicanism.
It is as important today, as it was in any other time in Irish history for those of us who understand, appreciate and uphold those beliefs enshrined in the Easter proclamation to renew our efforts and allegiance and continue to strive for a 32 County Republic. We must persevere to promote the only reasonable solution to the conflict in Ireland. The removal of the British presence and the implementation of the Éıre Nua program.
Éıre Nua provides for a federal system of government consisting of the four provinces of Ireland; Munster, Leinster, Connacht, and Ulster. Each region would have a provincial parliament with a federal Parliament at the center. These regional parliaments would share power with the federal Parliament. When first introduced Éıre Nua was so well received by all sections of Irish society that the Dublin government in fear of such a radical, workable alternative to Leinster House, swiftly acted against Republican Sinn Fein with the Section 31 ban, prohibiting the voice or image of Republican Sinn Fein in the media.
Easter 2009 sees much of the same censorship and draconian measures used by the establishment to silence the Republican movement. We collectively must and will continue to educate and advocate for the implementation of the Eire Nua program to end hundreds of years of occupation, discrimination and suffering on the part of the Irish people.